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Christmas Movie Magic

Today is the last day of our tour. We are in Greenwood, South Carolina and the sun is shining and it’s not near as cold as it has been everywhere else. I’m always a little sad to say good bye to all my bandmates, but this year I am more spent and tired than usual, so home is looking real good about now. It will be fast and furious the next couple of days getting ready for our family Christmas, but once we get to Little Rock, I’m fully expecting my mom and dad to wait on me hand and foot. Actually, it’ll pretty much be mom waiting on everybody, but I heard somewhere that’s what moms like to do…we’ll see.

One of the things I like to do in my “downtime” is watch all my favorite Christmas movies…
Here are my top three recommendations…

1.Number one of all time….Miracle on 34th Street

Here is the thing….they have a new really cute version with Dylan McDermott as the mom’s boyfriend, but I really like the old one best. And not the “colorized” old one. The black and white one. It’s the first one I ever watched with my mom years ago, and it’s perfect just like it is.

2.This is a brand new one that Caroline and I actually just watched yesterday. You can get it at Target and honestly I wasn’t expecting much, but we both LOVED it. You have to watch it with your “child eyes”, but it’s sweet and colorful, a little real life and a little fantasy. And the little girl Quinn is redonk cute.

The Search for Santa Paws

Caroline wanted me to tell you her favorite thing about the movie was the cute fluffy white dog. He talks. In fact, there are numerous talking dogs. So you will love this movie if you’re in to that kind of thing…

3. I feel like I should pick another older classic for number three, like White Christmas or something, but honestly, my other seasonal “must watch” is The Polar Express. I’m always completely amazed by the animation. It’s so good it’s a little creepy at times. But creepy good.

And Tom Hanks is awesome in it…his voice anyway….

Hey, by the way, have you seen our POG Christmas countdown widget?? It’s kinda cool…

Click HERE to download it to your blog, website, twitter, facebook whatever you desire!

better late than never…

Top Three Christmas Albums of ALL TIME

My two favorite things about Christmas, in this order, are FOOD and MUSIC.

There are 3 records that are my absolute favorites to listen to at Christmas time. I don’t listen to our own Christmas records, mainly because they remind me of work, and when I listen to music I just want to chill out. Here are the absolute MOST AWESOMEST of ALL TIME Christmas records. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.

1. My MOST FAVORITE (as in, if I had to go to a desert island with only three things I would take this record) is Mindy Smith’s “My Holiday”. Our soundman Mark always played it before our Christmas concerts like four years ago, and we fell IN LOVE with it. He bought us each a copy for Christmas, and I have WORN IT OUT. I want to make a record just like it…someday I will do that. Just for myself. Except I can’t sing like her. But I really want to…

Buy this record now. It is melancholy and warm and fuzzy and arty all at the same time. What could be better?

2. I’m a SUCKER for this record. Carpenters. Best one. Nuff said. A must in any Christmas music lovers library.

3. I worship Vince Gill’s voice. LO-OVE. It doesn’t hurt that he is the nicest person in the world. Or at least in Nashville. Anyway, this is an older Christmas record of his, and I got it a super long time ago when I first moved to Nashville. I distinctly remember listening to it in my condo on my little jam box and it always put me right in the Christmas spirit. And that’s what a Christmas record is supposed to do. He does a little duet with his daughter Jenny, who is all grown up now, but it is really sweet. You will love this record.

I love his green shirt with a red shirt over it. Classic.

I hope you enjoy me editing down the massive amount of Christmas music available to the 3 finest….

What are your favorites????

Meet The Family (Part 2)

I am currently on the road to Baltimore as I type this. We are on our way to our next stop on our “Home for the Holidays” tour. I think this drive is about 13 hours from Chicago. I realized yesterday that I never did the second installment of Meet My Road Family. We only have 3 shows left and it has been a blast. I will really miss these hard working folks!!

This beautiful girl is DeMetri Moon. She goes to Trevecca Nazarene University and is an awesome fiddle player. She has been a blessing to us on this tour. Not only does she play the fiddle and study faithfully on the road to keep her grades up, but she also does Caroline’s and Darby’s hair every night. They LOVE her. And we do, too.

This is Chris August. I took his picture during soundcheck. He has been opening for us. His record is SO GOOD. He just had his first number one single, Starry Night. My husband is his agent and the first time he played me his record I said, “If this guy doesn’t make it in Christian music, then no one will…” You should buy it, it’s called “No Far Away.” Super dee duper…and I get no kick back for saying that…He also makes me laugh, and that’s a bonus…

Darby and Caroline got to go with us on this last run. They sing every night and just love it! Honestly, I think they just love to show off whatever cool hair-do they have, compliments of DeMetri. They got these hats from somewhere in the church. I hope they left them there, but knowing them, they probably stole them…

This sweet smiley girl is Rebecca. She is the representative from American Bible Society that is traveling with us for the Christmas tour. You’ve never met a nicer, more positive person and I’m not kidding. I’m pretty sure that deep down inside she thinks we aren’t Christians. Actually, she’s probably too nice to think that…

I saved this guy for last. This is Dana. If you have seen us in the last 15 years, then you have seen him. He is our Mr. Everything. Guitar player, road manager, merch guy, and most importantly our biggest fan and encourager. He has so many jobs on this tour-I’m afraid we might just kill him. Pray he lasts for 3 more days! Big love to you, Dana!!!!!

On a serious note, which I don’t do often or well, I am blessed to love the people I travel with. It would be a long lonely road if I didn’t. We laugh a ton and encourage one another along the way. So a big thank you to all of my road family. You all are the best.

Stay tuned tomorrow, where I will share with you my all time favorite holiday music and movies….

FRAMILY CHRISTMAS

Last night, before we got on the bus at 9pm to drive to Wisconsin, we had our official Framily Christmas Party with the neighbors. “Framily” is the word that Kirsten came up with-a relationship that lies somewhere between friends and family. When you have kids, and live about 10 feet from another family that has kids, well, you better hope you like each other. If you don’t, moving is probably your best option. We have had some great times over the years with these people, and we probably will live in our house forever because they live next door. Unless they move, in which case we will follow them…because Caroline would sooner die than be separated from her brothers and sister. It’s really a great deal for Dave and I, our daughter has instant playmates at her beck and call, and we don’t have to send them to college, pay for their meals (well, sometimes we do), or discipline them (well, sometimes we do.)

So we met at our house at 5:45 to exchange gifts (in the long-standing tradition of the Howard’s it was 6:15 when they came), and David got a new remote helicopter.

That is Caroline, Dave, Kirsten and Ben. Isn’t he the cutest. HE LOVES CANDY. You really don’t understand how much. You never could. They try to monitor his intake, but I let him have as much as wants at my house. He loves me.

Here is Dave flying his new helicopter. Look at Bella at the bottom. She’s confused.

Here is Mister Rob opening his present. I also got him a hot dog bun steamer like 3 months ago, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’m sure it’ll turn up. He works at Denise’s church. One of the big cheeses there…..you can follow him on twitter at @howardrm.

Here is me and Kirsten. She’s really tall and can eat anything she wants and never gain weight. It’s totally bogus. You can follow her on twitter at @kirstenhow. (if she accepts you)

OK, so I was SOOOOOOOOO excited when she walked in the door with bags from my FAVORITE STORE in Nashville. Gilchrist Gilchrist. Pretty much everything that I love in my house is from there, and everything that I don’t really like is from somewhere else. HA! If you live in Nashville, you have to go in there (and buy me something.)

So, on the left here is this really cool calendar that stands on an easel and all the months artwork are hand drawn with little beads or glitter. So cute. It will look great on my desk. Once you have the stand, which I do now, you just replace the calendar every year. On the right is this big glass jar that looks kind of old and antique-y. I’m either going to fill it with soaps and put it in my bathroom, or maybe red and white candy at Christmas…not sure yet. I love the versatile gift! I loved my presents!!

I wish you could see the jar better….it’s bigger than it looks and so cool.

After gifts we went to eat Mexican food, because that is truly the tie that binds. Chips and Salsa. Mexicali Grill. It’s kind of like “Cheers” to the neighbors. Where everybody knows your name. I got my usual number 43 chicken…..

Ben got a whale pillowpet, Sarah got a gift certificate for Young Chefs Academy, Caroline got an incredible “teacher’s kit” which she has not stopped talking about since last night, and Caleb-well he wanted what every 13 year old boy wants-cash. So that’s what he got.

Below is Caroline bothering Caleb, because his real sister doesn’t do it enough…

Here is Mr. SMU, I mean Mr. Rob, Caroline and Dave. At this point in the night I had to ask both guys to please fake a smile because they were OVER IT and ready to go home. I told them it was all for the sake of the blog. They just laughed at me and rolled their eyes. But I can guar-an-dang-tee you that they will both click on today to read about themselves. That’s just how guys are…

Alrighty then, so that was our framily Christmas. Do you have awesome neighbors?? Write and tell me about them!

PS You are welcome to use the term “framily”. It has not yet been trademarked. But we are working on it….

Christmas Cards

So I finally finished addressing our Christmas cards a couple of days ago. I ordered 180, and I totally should have ordered more. We are completely out of them, and I keep remembering more and more friends everyday that I didn’t send one to yet. Shoot!

I take my card seriously, and was going to actually have my friend Keely come take our family picture back in November but canceled our “shoot” at the last minute. I ended up just pulling a few of my favorite photos from our year, and ordering a card off of Shutterfly. It was right before our tour started, and I just couldn’t add one more thing to our calendar. Especially one that involved me putting on make-up of any kind.

So here is our card. I’m posting it because it is highly likely that you didn’t get one. Because I’m a doofus and didn’t order enough. But I love you and David and Caroline love you, and even Bella loves you. And you are totally worth 44 cents.

The pic of Dave and I was at this incredible restaurant called Caliza that we ate at during our vacation to Florida. The family one is from the same trip to Florida on another night, and the one of Caroline is from Disneyworld back in September. I’m pretty sure I cropped Lilo and Stitch out of that one. And then of course there’s Bella in the fall leaves.

I thought the black and white card would be cool, but honestly it was just ok. I’m just glad I’m done addressing them.

I have quite a few cards that I haven’t opened yet.

I really like to take my time and read them, so I’m waiting until I have time! Maybe next week when the tour is over.

After Christmas I always recycle my Christmas cards. I save all the picture cards and leave them hanging up for quite awhile on my pantry door. (which I haven’t even STARTED hanging them up there yet this year!) But I “repurpose” the non-picture cards to use as gift tags for the next year. I just cut out whatever the main picture or design is, and when I need a gift tag, I just find one in my bunch that looks good with the paper, use a hole punch to thread the ribbon through, and WALLAH-a gift tag!

Here are the ones I cut out last year from my cards. I’ve already used a ton of them this year when wrapping. This is all I have left actually.

Just write “to” and “from” on the back side and you’re good to go.

I can’t even believe I take time to do this, but there is something oddly therapeutic about it.

It’s as crafty as I get. Lame-o.

But it saves me at least 5 or 10 bucks on gift tags. Just enough for a coffee and two cranberry bliss bars at starbucks.